Toronto Zoo closes bird enclosures to guests after avian flu confirmed in southern Ontario
The Toronto Zoo says it is closing most of its bird enclosures to guests after several cases of avian flu were confirmed in southern Ontario this week.
In a series of tweets, the zoo said that because some of the cases were detected within 200 kilometres of the zoo's location, "we are required to take precautions to protect the birds in our care."
That includes outright closing or "significantly modifying" the walk-through aviaries and shutting down behind-the-scenes tours of animal food preparation and bird housing, according to the tweets.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently found avian flu at two locations in Ontario. One was at a non-commercial property in Chatham-Kent on March 10, and a second was at a commercial property in the Township of West Lincoln, southeast of Hamilton, on March 14.
The particular strain of avian flu currently circulating is highly contagious and lethal to birds.
Last year saw explosive outbreaks of the H5N1 virus in poultry populations throughout the world, including in Canada, where roughly 4.7 million domestic birds were infected. Close to 270 farms and production facilities saw outbreaks in 2022, according to the CFIA.
CBC News reported last month that scientists have been tracking the virus' spread into an increasing number of mammals, fuelling concerns about the increased potential for transmission to humans.
In B.C., eight skunks found dead in residential areas in late February tested positive for avian influenza. It is believed they contracted the virus by scavenging on wild birds.